(Reuters) - Beleaguered England captain Alastair Cook should step down and take a break from the sport to avoid suffering from a damaging burnout that could end his career, a number of former England captains said on Tuesday. "For all the resolve... to carry on regardless, common sense should prevail in the interests of the man and his team," former captain Mike Atherton wrote in the Times a day after England fell to a humiliating 95-run defeat to India at Lord's. Cook has gone 27 test innings without a century and presided over England's 5-0 Ashes capitulation in Australia which was followed by a 1-0 home loss to Sri Lanka ahead of the current five-match series against India. On Monday, India's modest attack ripped through England's paper-thin defences to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, prompting calls for Cook's sacking after the Essex cricketer stubbornly refused to step down. "It gives no pleasure to write it, but the tap on the shoulder for Alastair Cook should come," Atherton added.
Japan's public pension fund is set to move into a new office next spring but drop an earlier cost-saving plan to leave Tokyo, as the government aims to transform the understaffed body into a more professional and autonomous institution, sources said. It has already won approval to expand its staff and hire full-time investment professionals, in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to make the fund more capable of taking on riskier investments and less dependent on low-yielding Japanese government bonds (JGBs). GPIF had previously planned to move to Kanagawa prefecture, to the south of Tokyo, to save costs. Government sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that decision was now likely to be overturned as a location outside the capital would make it difficult to recruit financial professionals.
By Jared Ferrie and Aung Hla Tun YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's main opposition party says it has collected about five million signatures seeking reduced powers for unelected military members of parliament as the country, which emerged from dictatorship in 2011, moves towards an election next year. The National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has spearheaded the campaign, which ended on Saturday, to rescind Section 436 of the constitution. Shwe Mann, speaker of parliament, said this month that the petition would not influence the work of a parliamentary committee tasked with recommending constitutional amendments.
The mayor of Moscow has dismissed the head of the Russian capital's metro network following an accident that killed at least 22 people, the mayor's office said on Tuesday. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin replaced Ivan Besedin, who had run the metro since February 2011, with Dmitry Pegov, a former official at a subsidiary of state-controlled Russian Railways. Russian state investigators have detained four Moscow metro workers suspected of safety breaches but Besedin was not among them. The accident is the worst in years on Moscow's metro, one of the world's busiest subway networks, and highlights concerns about Russia's patchy transport safety record.
British convenience store and newsagent operator McColl's Retail Group Plc, which went public in February, said first-half like-for-like sales rose 2.1 percent, helped by store conversions and improved product ranges. McColl's shares were up 1.2 percent at 170 pence on the London Stock Exchange at 1037 BST. Britain's big four grocers - Tesco Plc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Asda, J Sainsbury Plc and WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc - are increasingly pushing into the convenience store sector as their sales fall. The big chains have been squeezed by discounters as well as high-end grocery chains, while chains such as McColl's focus on setting up in residential areas to be closer to customers.
Ryanair will probably submit an expression of interest in troubled Cyprus Airways which is up for sale, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Tuesday. The Cypriot government in mid-July invited non-binding expressions of interest in its shares or assets in Cyprus Airways, a state-controlled airline which has posted heavy losses for years. The deadline for submissions is July 23, and requires a non-binding expression of interest to consider a potential binding offer. "We probably will make some expression of interest in Cyprus Airways," O'Leary told reporters in Nicosia in response to a question.
By Neil Maidment LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Royal Mail said growing competition had cut its revenue expectations from parcel deliveries, leaving it reliant on tight cost control and its traditional letters business to hit full-year profit forecasts. Parcel deliveries account for about half of Royal Mail's turnover and its growth in an industry buoyed by online shopping is a key investment focus for shareholders in light of declining letter volumes. "The key challenge remains weakness in parcel pricing in the UK. In our view, the company faces a considerable volume and pricing challenge in parcels in the next 18 months," Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Robin Byde said, keeping a "sell" rating on Royal Mail shares.
Areva will post a significant first-half net loss due to a drop of nearly 10 percent in sales, French daily newspaper Le Figaro reported on Tuesday, citing a source close to the French state, which controls the nuclear reactor maker. A spokeswoman for Areva declined to comment. Areva posted sales of 4.76 billion euros (3.7 billion pounds) in the first half of last year, while net profit was wiped out after it was hit by another provision for its EPR reactor construction project in Olkiluoto, Finland, which is years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Areva has not sold a new reactor since 2007, in a market further weakened by the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, but the group is also suffering as customers rein in spending on after-sales services, Le Figaro said.
By Paul Sandle LONDON (Reuters) - ARM Holdings posted a 9 percent rise in second-quarter profit as licensing of its processor technology compensated for a slowdown in high-end smartphone sales that decimated growth in royalties. The Cambridge-based company, which sells blueprints for chip designs and receives royalties on every chip shipped by partners such as industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, reported pretax profit of 94.2 million pounds on revenue also up 9 percent to 187.1 million pounds, both beating analysts' expectations. With the smartphone industry in the doldrums, nearly all of ARM's revenue growth, measured in dollars, was the result of chipmakers signing 41 new licences for its processors. Royalty revenue from chips shipped in products like Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, grew just 2 percent in dollars, and once translated into sterling fell 8 percent.
By Amlan Chakraborty NEW DELHI (Reuters) - England skipper Alastair Cook is running out of time, excuses and places to hide after Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India became the latest side to expose his weaknesses with a thumping victory at Lord's to open a 1-0 lead in their five-match series. His bright start to life as England captain at the end of 2012 now appears like a dim and distant memory as Dhoni carried on a trend started by Australia's Michael Clarke before handing the baton on to Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews. Cook's poor form and questionable leadership have come under intense scrutiny with some critics suggesting he should give up his place at the top of England's batting order and take a break from the game following Monday's painful 95-run defeat. The England skipper has little time to rally his troops ahead of the third test starting in Southampton on Sunday, needing to lift his underperforming senior players and without the services of injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior for the rest of the series.
The French parliament adopted a watered down version of a law against plant closures that will require healthy firms to prove they have sought an acquirer for any operation due to be shut down, but without the threat of hefty fines. Socialist President Francois Hollande had championed a tougher version which foresaw fines of up to $1,900 (1,113 pounds) per worker for companies that failed to exhaust all options to find an acquirer. The revamped law nonetheless requires firms to show the Labour Ministry that they have sought to find an acquirer for a plant before shutting it down.
By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war, Western diplomats and officials say, opening the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17. "Clearly it's an international conflict and therefore this is most probably a war crime," one Western diplomat in Geneva told Reuters. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions setting down the rules of war, and as such is considered a reference in the United Nations deciding when violence has evolved into an armed conflict. "Within the U.N. system, it's the ICRC that makes that determination.
Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Tuesday the recent German economic data show that Europe's economy is much weaker than it was expected to be six months ago, and further economic sanctions against Russia would be a "problem" for all sides. "The macroeconomic picture is disappointing, and recent data on Germany sounds the bell alarm because it indicates that the weakness is more persistent in time and widespread in space than what we expected six months ago," Padoan said in testimony to the European Parliament's economic affairs committee. The German economy probably stagnated in the second quarter in the face of political tensions abroad, the Bundesbank said on Monday.
Israeli forces have fired two warning shots into Al Jazeera's offices in Gaza, causing its employees to flee. Al Jazeera said the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) targeted its office in Gaza and that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman bears responsibility for the safety of their crews. Al Jazeera's correspondent Stefanie Dekker tweeted: "Two warning shots straight into Al Jazeera office in Gaza..We are evacuating."
Eurotunnel reported a 6 percent rise in first-half core profit on Tuesday, driven by a recovering British economy, and strong freight and passenger traffic. The operator of the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain - which carries Eurostar high-speed trains between Paris, Brussels and London, as well as shuttle trains containing passenger cars, coaches and freight trucks - kept its goal for higher profit this year and next. "All our businesses are showing growth," Chief Executive Jacques Gounon told a conference call. Eurotunnel is still aiming for EBITDA of 460 million euros this year and at least 500 million in 2015, against 449 million last year, Gounon said.
* Gaza death toll almost 550, Israeli death toll rises to 29 * Violence flares in the West Bank * U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to meet Israeli, Palestinian leaders * Kerry in Cairo pushing for ceasefire (Adds soldier missing, presumed dead) By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell GAZA/JERUSALEM, July 22 (Reuters) - Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, dashing hopes of a pause in the fighting, as the military said one of its soldiers was missing, presumed dead, following clashes with Hamas Islamists. International efforts to end the 15-day conflict gathered pace, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holding talks in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon due to arrive in Israel later in the day.
Specialty chemicals maker Croda International Plc, feeling the effects of a strong British pound, warned on Tuesday that this year's pretax profit would be lower than last year's. However, the company, which makes chemicals used in cosmetics, pesticides and detergents, said it expected to achieve "progress" in its underlying profit. Croda, whose customers include Unilever Plc, L'Oreal SA and Procter & Gamble Co, generates only about 5 percent of revenue in the UK but reports in pounds. Sales fell 4.5 percent to 537.4 million pounds as revenue fell in all three of its divisions - consumer care, performance technologies and industrial chemicals.
* Regulator says to publish draft rules, hold 90-day consultation * Major economic reform in world's top oil exporter * Authorities want to diversify economy beyond oil * Saudis expected to follow quota model similar to China * Reform was delayed by concern over volatility, politics (Updates with CMA statement on timetable, Tuesday's trade) By Angus McDowall and Andrew Torchia RIYADH/DUBAI, July 22 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia plans to open its stock market, the Arab world's biggest, to direct investment by foreign financial institutions in the first half of next year, the market regulator said on Tuesday. The opening of the Saudi market, capitalised at about $530 billion, is one of the most keenly awaited economic reforms in the world's biggest oil exporter. "The market will be open to eligible foreign financial institutions to invest in listed shares during the first half of 2015, with God's permission," the Capital Market Authority said in a statement. Saudi authorities want to open the stock market to create jobs, diversify the economy beyond oil and expose local firms to more market discipline.
Shares in IG Group, a provider of financial spread betting and contracts for difference, rose almost 7 percent on Tuesday after the company said it would pay out more of its earnings to shareholders. IG, which offers online trading in shares, indexes and foreign exchange, said it would lift its dividend payout ratio - the percentage of earnings paid to shareholders in dividends - from 60 percent to around 70 percent. Chief Executive Tim Howkins, speaking after the firm reported a 2.4 percent rise in full-year revenue, said the move reflected confidence in the cash-generating nature of the business.
(Reuters) - Britain's Arbuthnot Banking Group reported a nearly five-fold rise in first-half pretax profit, boosted by strong loan growth in its Secure Trust Bank retail unit. Arbuthnot, which has its roots in 181-year-old private bank and wealth manager Arbuthnot Latham, said net interest income rose to 41.1 million pounds in the six months ended June 30, from 30.1 million pounds a year earlier. Pretax profit rose to 9.5 million pounds from 2 million. The company's underlying profit rose 83 percent to 13. ...